As the 2016 edition of The Global Information Technology Report is released, the world is entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Processing and storage capacities are rising exponentially, and knowledge is becoming accessible to more people than ever before in human history. The future holds an even higher potential for human development as the full effects of new technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, 3-D Printing, energy storage, and quantum computing unfold. The exponential speed of developments; disruption across all major industries; and the impact on entire systems of production, management, and governance are what differentiates these developments from previous “industrial revolutions.” However, while all these developments will bring many benefits, they also carry risks. If managed well, they have the potential to give rise to innovation that will drive growth and social impact. If not handled appropriately, challenges such as the rising threat of cyberattacks that expand into the physical world, privacy issues, and the polarizing effects of technologies on labor markets could derail these benefits. Countries and businesses that embrace these developments, anticipate challenges, and deal with them in a strategic way are more likely to prosper, while those that do not will more likely fall behind.

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